Want to become an international fashion model and appear in a music video with Lady Gaga?
A young Canadian named Rick Genest has done just that. All he had to do was spend 7 years getting himself tattooed from head to toe to look like a Walking Dead extra. The Quebec-born Genest, 26, hung out in the Montreal punk-rock scene at age 17 and started appearing in freak shows. At age 19, he began working with tattoo artist Frank Lewis to transform his entire body into a decaying corpse.
To put it mildly, this guy makes Marilyn Manson look like a wimp. Lady Gaga's friend and collaborator Nicola Formichetti, creative director for the international fashion label Thierry Mugler, saw Genest's (he goes by the moniker "Zombie Boy") Facebook which featured photos of the tattoos covering his body, black circles around his eye sockets, a skeletal ink grin, his shaved head showing off his wormy brain and his realistic ribcage art with a large biohazard symbol.
Read Nicola's account of how he found and hired his bizarre model. Long story short. Formichetti paid off Rick's tickets for sleeping in parks, got him a passport so he could appear in a 2011 Mugler menswear runway show. Rick's unique look ended up influencing the entire collection and he appeared in print ads for the line. Before you could say "Shoot him in the head!," he was dancing with Gaga (made up to look like a zombie herself) in her "Born This Way" video.
Formichetti finds a similarity between Lady Gaga and Zombie Boy. "In a way his story is similar to Gaga, in that there's no going back. You do what you believe. You are that, you are what you’re creating." Rick's reel of fashion shows and music videos can be viewed here reference.
But Rick's best paying gig has to be his 2011 commercial for Dermablend, a line of professional makeup. The video of Genest removing his Dermablend from his body in front of a camera has reportedly been viewed on YouTube more than 7.5 million times. Talk about a walking endorsement.